Facebook and Other Websites Running Experiments on Human Beings


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TIME

It was the Facebook study heard ’round the world. In June, the social network revealed that it had briefly tweaked its algorithm for a lucky (or unlucky) 698,003 users to make them feel happier (or sadder) based on what they see on their Newsfeed. The reaction to human experimentation—creepy emotional manipulation! mind control!—came out so strong, that Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) asked the FTC to investigate.

Christian Rudder, the co-founder of dating site OKCupid, was shocked by the internet’s shock. “It’s just a fact of life online,” he says. “There’s no website that doesn’t run experiments online.”

And so, Rudder posted OKTrends’ first blog post in three years Monday to announce to the world, “We experiment on human beings!”

Rudder relaunched the site with the revelation that “OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing,” which is why it uses human guinea pigs. And to be honest, “If you use the…

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Researchers Get Access to Behavioral Data from Google, Facebook, Reddit, etc.


Gigaom

Whatever outsiders may think of online communities like Reddit, Imgur or Twitch — the video-game streaming site Google is said to be acquiring for $1 billion — there’s no question they provide a fascinating window into the ways people behave online, like a massive human Petri dish. Now, the three sites have formed a partnership to provide internal data to researchers who want to understand those communities better. The consortium is known as the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership, and will offer its data to universities and other institutions free of charge.

It’s a serious effort, but it wouldn’t be faithful to the Reddit ethos if it didn’t involve some sort of nerdy in-joke — hence the fact that the group’s name is abbreviated as DERP, a term commonly used on Reddit and other online communities to refer to a mistake or screw-up. In addition to Reddit, Imgur and Twitch…

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